In July 2013 we bought our new homestead, a fixer upper on 4.5 acres. We’re nestled in the valley on a dirt road with beautiful views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
In addition to our house we have a shop and two outbuildings which are 100+ year old railroad cars. We have a small orchard on the north side of the house and the rest of our property is pasture. The former owners had horses so the property is fenced and cross fenced. The outbuildings are set up for horse stalls.
Basically we live in an old house with a couple acres of pasture and little infrastructure for animals other than horses. For a family expanding our homestead dreams, we have a pretty big “to do” list!
Since our house is a fixer upper, we were able to buy it for a low cost and put our sweat equity into fixing it up. It took us two months to remodel the house before we could move in. There are still a few projects in the house that need finished PLUS desperately needing new exterior siding.
On top of all these house projects, we have a list of things we want to accomplish around the homestead in the next year. We know our project list will be never ending, but this list consists of our biggest goals for the next year.
1. Create a new vegetable garden space In the fall we created new gardens for all our perennial herbs, flowers and shrubs that we moved from the gardens at our old house. Now we need to create a large fenced space for our vegetable garden.
2. Shore up the barns 100+ year old wooden railroad car outbuildings start to lean after a couple decades in the winds that gust across the valley floor.
3. Fix the irrigation well We have one well that feeds our house and a separate irrigation well connected to several spigots around the property. Unfortunately the pump needs some work so my handy man husband has a project on his hands!
4. Plant more fruit trees One of the first things I fell in love with at our new homestead was the small orchard complete with a pear tree, apple tree and three apricot trees. Unfortunately the apple tree is so old it only produced 4 apples this year and they were all eaten by worms and birds. We plan to add a plum tree and a few apple trees.
5. Build a chicken tractor We are avid birdwatchers and love to watch the red tail hawks and prairie falcons hunt the farm fields across the road. Unfortunately we know they also will be predators of our chicken flock. I almost forgot to mention my favorite owls that frequent our property. As much as I adore the owls and love listening to them call to each other at night, they are another predator we need to be aware of. We’ve been researching the best options for raising chickens in an area with a lot of raptors and decided we are going to build a chicken tractor.
6. Learn the art of beekeeping Our family consumes a lot of honey since I use it as a natural sweetener in my cooking instead of sugar. My husband has been reading and researching how to raise bees so we’re hoping to invest so we can harvest our own honey.
7. Raise meat chickens Since we hunt for the majority of the meat we eat throughout the year, chicken is the only meat I regularly buy at the Amish market. We typically roast one chicken a month so we decided that we are going to raise and harvest meat chickens this spring so we don’t have to buy them at the store.
8. Install solar panels We had solar panels on the roof of our old house and our handmade business, MontanaSolarCreations, is based on having solar power. Unfortunately installing solar panels at our new house is quite complicated (I’ll be sharing a post about this soon!).
9. Plant more berry bushes We moved our strawberry and raspberry plants from our old gardens to our new house this fall. We want to expand the berries that we grow to include more raspberries and blueberries.
10. Trim the existing shrubs and trees When we bought our property, it was a neglected bank owned home. The shrubs and trees around the property had not been trimmed in quite some time. The lilac bushes have grown so tall and thick outside our daughter’s bedroom windows you can’t see out in the summer!
As I review this list it feels a bit daunting since there is so much to do. But we are already starting to plan our projects and one by one we’ll be checking off the things on our list. Hopefully by this time next year we’ll have them all done! Then it will be time for new goals and new projects….